Do you reject Satan, and all his works, and all his empty promises? Do you believe in Almighty God, in His Son Jesus Christ Who died and rose from the dead, in His Holy Spirit, and in His Church? [Spanish]
Baptismal promises. They involve a decision, a choice. The fundamental choice of life: to reject the seduction of short-term satisfaction through sin and to embrace the call of God. To offer our lives in sacrifice to the Father, as Jesus did on the cross. To pass over to eternal life, by living for God.
We choose in response to God’s choice. As St. Paul puts it in our second reading at Holy Mass on Sunday, we are God’s “chosen ones.” He chose us for eternal life even before the foundation of the world. He inscribed our names in His Son’s Sacred Heart, numbering us among His adopted children.
Hopefully everyone knows the main reason we have the season of Lent: For the final preparation of adults preparing for baptism. During these six weeks, they dedicate themselves to an especially intense spiritual life, as the day when they will become Christians approaches. Let’s make sure we pray hard for them.
Many of us became Christians while we were still infants, carried to the baptismal font by our parents. They, with our godparents, made the baptismal promises that day. They chose on our behalf to reject sin and live for God.
Holy Mother Church gives us already-baptized people the forty days of Lent to renew the baptismal choice and make it more and more our own. After all, it takes a lifetime for anyone truly to choose God. The day of baptism comes and goes quickly, but we only really finish making our baptismal promises at the moment of death. In the meantime, we work on deepening our rejection of Satan and our faith in God.
Perhaps this is one reason why the Church always reads the account of the Transfiguration near the beginning of Lent. The main reason, of course, is: Christ let Peter, James, and John see His divine glory in order to prepare them for His Passion and death. Lent prepares us for the same thing.
But there’s more. Lord Jesus allowed Peter, James, and John, to see what we normally cannot see here on earth. In heaven, the saints see what Peter, James, and John saw on Mount Tabor. But as we Christians make our pilgrim way through life, we must have faith that Jesus of Nazareth is God; we believe that He is.
For a moment, though, these three chosen Apostles saw. They saw the divinity of the Eternal Word made man. That was an extraordinary gift of insight, to be sure. But we, too, share in Peter, James, and John’s special vision of Christ in our own way. Christian faith gives us supernatural insight into the workings of divine Providence. We can learn to recognize temptations when they come our way, and to recognize the moments when God embraces us with His true love. Even though these two realities often wear disguises.
Anyone familiar with William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth? It involves a perfect example of what I mean. Early in the play, Macbeth thinks that Fate is “blessing” him with the opportunity to sit on the throne of Scotland. He thinks that the doors of ambition open before him because some higher power is working for his benefit. But Macbeth learns, in the the end, that an evil power has actually seduced him. Macbeth becomes king, but to his utter ruin. It costs him his happiness, his life, his soul.
May keeping Lent help us to put that in reverse. May we learn to see a temptation when it comes our way, no matter how shiny and attractive it may be. And may we learn to embrace with joy whatever little share in His Cross the good Lord gives us. Because to share in Christ’s cross is the greatest blessing we can receive in this pilgrim life.